disappearing act

i’m disappearing

you probably can’t tell

unless you’re my wife

my adult children

among my closest friends

i’m not trying

to hide it from you

i try to be present

as fully as you but

that’s never easy

some days i can’t


i don’t mean to compare

my condition to yours

i’m not complaining

i would like you to know

how deep I have to go

the resources i must access

to be out in the world

with you right now

answering questions

making conversation

contributing to some

project we share


i’m not shy

i no longer believe

i’m an introvert on overload


i have to work like hell

to actually exist

have a measurable meaningful

presence in your world

which doesn’t welcome

those who seem

to hold back as if i’m

working some angle from which

i hope to profit

or win big with the hand

i’m holding take

advantage of you


you might think

i’ve something to hide

perhaps i’m demented

you don’t want to feel sad

or acknowledge your own

inevitable disability affliction


that’s part of my disappearance these days

it also has nothing to do with you


inside my own body

i am disappearing

even to myself

and it’s happening

faster and faster


it’s not like shrinking


it’s more like fading

from some special fx my brain

has contrived


and to stay here now

requires a massive gathering of resources

executive monitoring

systemic adjustments

guru-like self-awareness self-efficacy

to avoid shutdown shame


i’m disappearing


i know it in all five senses

each and every moment

even in my sleep

my disappearance is

an entirely physical phenomenon

which makes it more real

less unbelievable undeniable

it’s a little like a battery dying

no charger will restore it’s power


the battery looks the same

but it isn’t


the failure of my simile is this:

the battery does not work like hell

to rally the energy left to deliver

it’s full intended capacity

to serve the purpose

for which it was manufactured—

a battery does not bust its ass

to compensate

to show-up anyway

to rally a system-wide

emergency intervention

all-out disaster relief effort


i’m exaggerating a little

it’s the nature of degenerative drama

but I’m not lying

this is how it feels

a little more each day





Photo by Nadine Marfurt on Unsplash

Wayne A. Gilbert

Wayne A. Gilbert is a retired teacher and teacher of teachers. He has written three books of poems although he ...more